What is a Pediatric Nurse?
A Pediatric Nurse specializes in the care of infants and children from birth through the age of 18. A Pediatric Nurse most commonly provides evidence based nursing care to deliver advanced care to children in a variety of environments and units. More than many other nursing specialization, the pediatric nurse is responsible for teaching about healthy lifestyles and good choices both to children and their caretakers/ parents. The Pediatric Nurse works closely with neonatologists and pediatricians – physicians who specialize in the care of newborns, children and adolescents.
Quick Facts about Pediatric Nurses:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track the Pediatric Nurse role, so the data below is based on the closely related Registered Nurse role:
- 2015 Median Pay ( for a Pediatric Nurse, according to PayScale.com)
- Number of Jobs in 2014
- Job Prospects from 2014-2024
- Much faster than average
- Projected Employment in 2024
- Areas of Growth
- All areas of healthcare
Figure 1: Accessed online from Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2016
What does a Pediatric Nurse do?
The Pediatric Nurse role is designed to provide advanced nursing care that improves patient outcomes for pediatric patients in many different environments. Depending on state-specific scope of practice, a Pediatric Nurse will do some or all of the following:
- Take nursing histories from families and children who are old enough to convey information;
- Perform in-depth physical exams;
- Provide well-child care;
- Analyze and monitor results of tests;
- Diagnose nursing problems based on the history, exam and testing;
- Create plans of care for patients and families based on the patient problems and nursing diagnoses;
- Administer and monitor medication and treatments based on the plan of care;
- Evaluate the infant’s/ child’s response to prescribed medications and treatments;
- Set up and monitor equipment specific to pediatric care (croup tents, cardiac monitors, etc.);
- Teach and collaborate with children and families about the findings and plan of care;
- Collaborate with and educate other members of the healthcare team.
Where do Pediatric Nurses work?
Pediatric nurses can work in a wide variety of environments including acute care hospitals, physician offices, surgery centers, schools, public health facilities, and outpatient clinics. Your interests are the primary consideration that will help to determine where you will work as a Pediatric nurse. If you are interested in acute problems and illnesses, you may elect to work in an acute care hospital or outpatient clinic. If you are more interested in well-child care, you might look at working in a pediatrician’s office or in a school. It is important that you understand that Pediatric Nurse practice is governed by each state’s Board of Nursing and the hiring facility so it is critical to understand the rules and regulations in your state and the policies of your workplace.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not keep statistics specific to employment of Pediatric Nurses. Although Pediatric Nurses are a small subset of all Registered Nurses, in May 2015, the BLS showed the following as employment of Registered Nurses by state:
Figure 2: Accessed online from Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2016
What qualities should a Pediatric Nurse have to be successful?
The Pediatric Nurse is in a unique position in nursing in that you will be working with children and their families. This fact leads to the need for a unique skill set including:
- Good basic nursing skills;
- An exceptional understanding of growth and development;
- An ability to talk to children and translate medical terminology into a language that a child can understand;
- Understanding of the stress that a parent will experience with a sick child and the ability to deal with that stress in a calm but authoritative manner;
- Problem solving skills;
- A true understanding that a child is NOT just a small adult;
- Patience, patience, patience!
How much can I expect to earn as a Pediatric Nurse?
The great news is that the Pediatric Nurse can expect to earn a good living. Salaries will vary depending on specialization, location, experience and other factors. As of January 2016, the average annual wage was $52,455 with a range from $34,680 to $83,120.
Figure 3: Accessed online at www.payscale.com July 2016
Of course, wages vary widely by state, cost of living, and need. Experience of the Pediatric Nurse does not seem to have an impact on salary:
Figure 4: Accessed online at www.payscale.com July 2016
What are the job prospects for a Pediatric Nurse?
The need for Pediatric Nurses will continue to grow through 2024 with an expected 14% increase in the next several years. Job prospects for Pediatric Nurses are excellent over the next 10 years as Millenials marry and begin to have children.
How can I become a Pediatric Nurse?
A Pediatric Nurse must be a Registered Nurse with at least an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Most hiring facilities assume that the Pediatric Nurse will have at least one to two years of medical- surgical experience in an acute care environment. Many facilities require that the nurse be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).
A Pediatric Nurse can elect to obtain additional formal certification from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). The PNCB offers certification for pediatric nurses in many different areas. In order to qualify for certification by the PNCB, the nurse must be a Registered Nurse and must have:
- 1800 hours of pediatric clinical experience in the last 2 years OR
- 1000 hours of pediatric clinical experience in the last 2 years AND at least 5 years’ experience in pediatric nursing with 3000 hours pediatric experience in that 5 years.